Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials: The Running Strikes Back
What I loved about The Maze Runner is that it told a lean and mean story on a budget. It flowed quickly and introduced you to a likable crew of survivors that had been put through the wringer. Director Wes Ball did a lot with little and I was excited and cautious about the Scorch Trials. Part of me was excited for the action set pieces and time spent with a likable young cast. Part of me was cautious because bigger budgeted sequels often introduce hundreds of new characters, unnecessary plot expansion and things turned up to 11.
I am happy to say that even though The Scorch Trials turns things up to 11 and introduces copious characters we still get plenty of what we came for. The plot does get muddled underneath post-apocalyptic muck but it never gets buried under the weight of expository dialogue. I’m amazed at the way Ball was able to make 17 sprinting scenes exciting. It gets to the point where the characters are running through a collapsed skyscraper while being chased by the angry undead. Not only are they hundreds of feet from the ground they have to deal with cracked glass windows, perilous cliffs and zombies straight from World War Z.
The Scorch Trials revolves around the Maze survivors escaping the death trap and being brought to another death trap. Things look good until they learn a guy named Janson (Aidan Gillen) is turning maze survivors into human blood banks. In their blood is a cure for the world ending plague and they escape before they are strung up. The problem is the secure facility is surrounded by desert and things go from bad to worse as they navigate the worst world ever. From there they run through malls, abandoned cities, deserts, underground mines and mountains in order to avoid shady corporations and zombies. Alliances change, people are double crossed and you actually get tired watching these poor kids run around.
I’ve been complaining about the additions but you can’t be annoyed when Alan Tudyk (Serenity, Tucker and Dale), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan, 25th Hour), Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, The Wire) and Lili Taylor (Say Anything, The Conjuring) pop up in a film. Their characters expand the world and provide much needed assistance/problems to the main characters. I also like the young additions that were added and I think Jacob Lofland (Mud), Rosa Salazar and Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones) will do some great running in the third film.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a successful sequel that has genuinely exciting set pieces and doesn’t get lost in way too much plot. If you liked the original you will enjoy the sequel. Also, it will teach you to never turn on the lights in an abandoned mall full of zombies.